Presto Pesto…

Until I started watching Food Network more and more I thought pesto was your basic basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese combo.  I didn’t realize that you could make anything pesto.  Spinach, arugula, red peppers, etc.  While in London I saw that one of the vendors at Burough Market, who was selling various dips and sauces, was selling Red Pesto, which I was super intrigued by.  It consisted of sun dried tomatoes, cashews, pecorino, etc.

After seeing this and coming home, I was inspired and decided that I was going to try to make it myself.  I’ve made Pioneer Woman’s Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce before and thought that the sundried recipe was somewhat similar.  Of course, I used what I had on hand.  Instead of pecorino I used Parmesan.  Instead of using cashews I used the pine nuts.  Remember that’s the key to budgeting and cooking, inspiration of recipes and using what you have on hand and making it your own.  🙂

I made this recipe during lent and yes, I’m only sharing this it now.  Instead of using regular pasta, I made it with Trader Joe’s tortellini.  I made this dish on a Friday and I wanted to put more carbs in our meal since we didn’t eat meat all day.  Feel free to make this with penne or fusili or any kind of pasta you’d like.  I definitely bumped it up a notched by adding some cherry/grape tomatoes and spinach.  I must say it was a success.  YUM!



1 package of Trader Joe’s refrigerated cheese Tortellini
1 jar of SunDried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
handful of basil leaves (you don’t want too many, as you’ll mask the tomato flavor)
Olive Oil
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Halved
1/2 lb of spinach


Cook Tortellini according to package instructions.  Note:  If you’re using the refrigerated pack, this should take probably 5 minutes.  If you’re using dried it will take 10-15 minutes.

In a food processor, combined the sundried tomatoes with olive oil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil leaves.  Start pulsing.  Let the food processor go and start streaming olive oil in until its a desired consistency.  Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Prior to draining off the tortellini, reserve a cup of pasta water.  Add the Tortellini back to the pot and pour in red pesto.  If too thick, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce a bit.  This also helps the pesto become more of a sauce consistency.  Add in spinach.  When the spinach is wilted, add cherry tomatoes.

Top with a little bit of parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread.

Super easy and super delish!

Spanish Flare

As part of my London Haul, you may remember that I snapped up some Spanish Chorizo.  While I LOVE Mexican Chorizo especially in my breakfast burrito’s from Cafe Rosalena (OMG TO DIE!), I like the firmness and taste of the Spanish Chorizo.  It’s almost like Chinese Sausage but not really.  So I thought I’d make some paella using Rocco Dispirito’s Now Eat This recipe.  Pretty tasty.  The one modification I did make is that I didn’t use brown rice as I didn’t have any, I used arboro rice.  I would’ve used sushi rice (got my husband to convert to sushi rice from jasmine rice), but I thought it would end up being too sticky.  I would’ve also used Jasmine (long grain) rice, but I didn’t have any.  PLUS the husband doesn’t believe that brown rice is real rice aka he doesn’t like that stuff.  LOL!  I’m indifferent.  Other than that I didn’t make any variations to this recipe.

Rocco Dispirito’s Shrimp and Chorizo Paella


2 ounces chorizo, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 3/4 cups chicken broth, or more if needed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
8 ounces medium peeled shrimp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas


Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook until the fat begins to render (about two minutes).

Add garlic and saute until fragrant (about one minute). Add saffron, rice, and broth. Cover pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and juice. Cover pot, and continue to cook another 25 minutes.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Stir shrimp and peas into mixture, adding more broth if the rice appears dry. Cover, and continue to cook until shrimp are cooked through and rice is tender (about 10 or 15 minutes).

Allow paella to rest for five minutes, covered. Fluff rice with a fork.

foodie haul

Here’s my haul from Borough Market.  The oh so delicious eat’s I’ve taken home with me and am still devouring.  YUM!

Not pictured:  The dried vacuum sealed cured speck and Spanish Chorizo I “smuggled” back per the hubs.

L-R (starting at the top):  Haribo Starmix gummies, Digestive Cookies, Fennel Seeds, Foie Gras, White Truffle Honey, Turmeric, Monbazillo Wine
Bottom Row:  White Truffle Oil, Kinder chocolates (Country, Bueno (OMG SO DELISH!), and Milky), Truffle Balsamic Vinegar, Lime Pickle with Ginger and Garlic Jam (recipe using this to be posted soon), Fig Jam, Lemon and Lime Marmalade, Balsamic Vinegar, and Herbs De Provence.

Some close ups

Sweet Wine from France

Foie Gras, Truffle Honey and Fig Jam

TRUFFLE SHUFFLE!  White Truffle Oil, Truffle Balsamic Vinegar, and Truffle Honey

Sweets for me:  Haribo Starmix Gummies,  Digestives for afternoon tea, and Kinder chocolates (reminds me of my childhood in Italy)